What's Going On with the Price of Used Cars?

What's Going On with the Price of Used Cars?
What's Going On with the Price of Used Cars?
Education
| Jun 14 2022
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A Guide to Current Used Car Prices

It’s the hot topic of conversation lately because it is impossible to ignore. The price of everything these days is just climbing and climbing, while we are all left scrambling to fit these higher prices into our budgets. We know that inflation is affecting everything in the economy, but even the price of used cars has skyrocketed. 


Here we are talking about why used cars are so expensive right now and what you can expect in the future.



Why are used cars so expensive right now?

In order to understand why used cars are so expensive right now, we need to look at why new cars are so expensive right now. And that is because of good old supply and demand.


When the pandemic hit and shut the economy down, the demand for new cars plummeted. Everyone tightened their belts and started saving their money, in part because there was fear of what would happen to the economy. As a result, car dealerships ordered less and less new cars to have on the lot. Car manufacturers naturally slowed down their production in response.


The Fed, in an effort to encourage spending, lowered interest rates during this time. Once things leveled off a bit, people felt more comfortable spending money, and the demand for new cars increased again. Under normal circumstances, the increased demand would cause a slight inflation in the car market but supply would soon catch up to demand.


But the pandemic had other ripple effects, one of them being a disruption in the supply of materials. An increased demand for microchips from the tech world coupled with a sudden increased demand from the automotive world caused a shortage in chips that drastically slowed down new car production. In fact experts think that 90-95% of the new car supply issue can be attributed to chip production. But there are a few other factors at play, such as a shortage of workers at the car factories and supply issues with raw materials such as plastic and steel.


With less new cars to sell and to buy, the used car market became heated. The owner of Preferred Automotive Group, Jay Leonard, commented on the situation to WANE, “It’s the same thing that’s going on with cottage cheese and houses and everything right now. I mean, it’s inflation and we’ve seen it in the car market… When you’ve got new cars that are not being built, and the only thing out there are used cars, the price is going to go up.”


Since getting a new car is so expensive, drivers are not selling their used cars as frequently. Both GM and Ford noted sharp decreases in the rate of lease returns, with GM’s lease return falling from around 75% in 2020 to 10% in 2021.


With the expensive price of gas these days and the growing concern for the environment, it’s no wonder that electric cars have had the most notable increase in demand. The price of used electric cars has significantly increased because of this. According to a recent price analysis the Nissan LEAF cost an average of $21,524 by the end of 2021, while just one year earlier it cost an average of $8,404.



When will prices stop rising?

It’s hard to say exactly when the prices might start regulating again, but experts agree that it will at least be for the rest of the year. The Fed has been steadily increasing interest rates throughout the year in the hopes of curbing inflation, and if that approach is successful we could see a reduction in prices. Production on new cars will also need to increase so that there is a higher supply of used cars. 


For new car production to start meeting the demand, the supply of raw materials such as plastic and steel will need to increase, microchip production must increase, and more workers must be hired. In other words, there are a lot of things that need to fall into place before prices can start to normalize.



What does this mean for me?

If you are in the market for a car, either new or used, there are a few tips that you can use to ease the buying process.


Budget Realistically

If you are looking to buy a car, look closely at your budget to see what you can afford. It’s important to be realistic when doing this–over extending yourself will lead into debt down the road and can seriously hurt your credit score. If your monthly budget for car payments is very tight, look for other ways you can save some money every month. Some quick adjustments you can make include:


  • Buying generic groceries instead of name brand
  • Be sure to use your grocery store club card to save on everyday purchases
  • Consolidate trips out to conserve gas
  • Canceling unused subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc)
  • Cut down on eating out
  • Unfollow influencers (so you are less tempted to make impulse buys)


You can also refinance your existing car loan (if you have one). Refinancing can save you a lot of money every month. By refinancing your car loan to a lower APR or lengthening your repayment plan, you can cut your monthly bill by hundreds. 


Making a budget is incredibly important for your financial well being and serves as a great way to save for things, such as a new or used car.


Improve Your Credit Score

If you are looking to finance your car, focus on improving your credit score so that you can get the best deal possible. If your credit score is less than ideal, you will end up spending a lot more money in interest over the years. It is a good idea to wait until you get your credit score into fighting shape before you apply for financing. Here are some ways to improve your credit score:


  • Make on time payments. This can improve your payment history section, which accounts for 35% of your credit score. Even 6-12 months of consistent, on time payments can make a difference in your score. Try setting up auto pay so you never miss a payment.
  • Pay down debt strategically. Reducing your credit utilization ratio can help your score a lot. Your credit utilization ratio looks at your total debt to available credit ratio as well as your debt to available credit ratio for each account. This means that if you have a credit limit of $5,000 with a balance of $2,000, and another account with a credit limit of $1,000 with a $500 balance, you should prioritize paying off the $500 balance. Even though you owe less money on that account, your credit utilization ratio is 50%, as opposed to 40% on the other account. 
  • Request higher limits. Requesting higher limits on your credit accounts will help to reduce your credit utilization ratio. While lenders usually raise the limits for you, it doesn’t hurt to ask them directly for a higher limit. Itcan have a significant impact on your score.
  • Check your credit report. Request your report and cross check it with your credit payments and histories. Did some payments get marked as late? Do the balances on your accounts add up? If there are any discrepancies, report them to the bureau. This will also give you a chance to ensure there are no unauthorized accounts opened in your name. You can check your credit report three times per year for free, once from each of the major credit agencies. 


Wait for a good deal 

Now more than ever it is important to hunt around and be patient. While you may be tempted to jump at the first car you come across and like, make sure you aren’t blinded by your desire for a new car (and your fear of not being able to find one). Kelley Blue Book advises that people looking for a new car keep their options open and consider different brands and models. You can still find good deals if you are patient and open to traveling.



That’s the deal with used car prices and what you can do if you are looking to buy a car.


Inflation is making everything so much more expensive, and is therefore making our lives so much harder. But that doesn’t mean that buying a new car is impossible, it just means it will be a little more work. Hunting around for a good deal and working to improve your credit score is now more important than ever,


Refinancing your car is a great option for those looking to save money every month (which can also help you improve your credit score). It can give you some much needed breathing room so that you can save up for the car you’ve had your eye on (or whatever else you might be thinking about buying lately).


So don’t wait any longer – start saving money when you refinance your car loan. Get your free quote from Auto Approve today!

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